The Real Turkish Agenda…

ISIS Study Group , November 21, 2014:

Recent reporting has shown that the Erdogan government is still pushing for the PKK to accept the cease-fire they originally agreed to after having been targeted in Turkish military operations last month. The PKK has vehemently denied agreeing to turn their weapons and themselves over to the Turkish government, not that we’re surprised or anything.

PKK rules out government’s talk of disarmament
http://www.todayszaman.com/national_pkk-rules-out-governments-talk-of-disarmament_364726.html

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Erdogan: Really a “generous” kind of guy
Source: Associated Press

One would think that the Turkish Army would’ve taken action in Kobani in light of the death and destruction the Islamic State (IS) has waged along the border. Instead they launched operations against Pehsmerga forces in the village of Daglica, located in the Turkish part of the tri-border region shared with Iraq and Iran. As we’ve predicted, the Turkish military waited until the joint-PKK/YPG Peshmerga forces were degraded to a certain point before launching operations – possibly part of a bid towards establishing that buffer zone they’ve been talking so much about. Other reporting coming out of Turkey last month described clashes taking places in the Tunceli-area of Turkey involving Turkish forces and the PKK. The Turkish government claims their operations are in response to the PKK attacking one of their outposts in the area, but we’re not so sure that’s the real reason for the operations.

Turkish jets bomb Kurdish PKK rebels near Iraq
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-29611582

Is Turkey a Reliable Partner In The Fight Against ISIS?
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=1916

turkish air force
Turkish F4s (pictured above) and F16s participated in the OPs against the PKK
Source: BBC

The fact that Erdogan is more concerned with ousting the Assad regime should’ve been the first red-flag to the US government when it was framing it’s pseudo-strategy to combat IS, but it would appear this is a case of incompetent analysts working the problem-set or a senior leadership willfully ignoring the recommendations of said analysts. We suspect that it’s the latter in this case since we personally know several analysts who are working the problem-set. They’ve voiced to us their frustrations at being ignored by decision-makers who would prefer to be told “what they want to hear” instead of what they need to hear. Had they listened to their analysts, they would know that Turkey isn’t a dependable ally (and we use the term quite loosely here), and is operating on their own agenda that’s to our detriment. Even after the Erdogan government initially came out with their public statement denying they’re allowing the US military to use their air bases to launch airstrikes against IS, the US government continues to insist that it can get Turkey to get involved and target IS. Unfortunately, the US government’s drumbeat being fed to the mainstream media doesn’t mirror reality. In fact, the much-vaunted “Anti-IS Coalition” appears to be every bit the “Coalition of the Reluctantly Willing” that we’ve assessed it to be.

Read more

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Erdogan: Turkey the Hope of All Peoples in the Region, We Will Be the Architect of a New Middle East

Published on Nov 18, 2014 by MEMRITVVideos

In an October 13, 2014 speech given at Marmara University, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan denounced what he claimed was the continued efforts by Western powers to divide the Middle East. He claimed that the hopes of the peoples of the region lie, once again, with Turkey as it was during the days of the Ottoman Empire.

Also see:

6 Failed Policies Obama and the State Department Won’t Stop Pushing

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By Robert Spencer:

Presidents come and presidents go, but the State Department’s foreign policy establishment is forever. And no matter how many times its remedies fail to heal problems (and usually cause worse ones), it keeps on applying them, without an ounce of self-reflection. And in Barack Obama, the lifers at State have a president after their own heart – one whose vision of the world coincides exactly with theirs, and who takes their recommendations without question and fronts for them eagerly, no matter how often and how abysmally they have failed.

Here are six policies that have failed miserably again and again, and yet are still front and center in the Obama administration’s foreign policy planning:

6. Supporting the Afghan regime

The corrupt and treacherous [2] kleptocrat Hamid Karzai is gone, but his legacy lives on. The new president, Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, is almost certainly still receiving those bags of cash from the CIA [3], and the new regime shows no more interest in accountability than Karzai did. It was revealed Thursday [4]that

nearly $420 million in weapons and other “sensitive items” have gone missing from U.S. Army bases in Afghanistan and are not likely to be recovered due to mismanagement and improper accounting, according to an internal report by the Pentagon’s inspector general obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

These include “some 15,600 pieces of equipment—including ‘weapons, weapons systems, and sensitive items,’” which “went missing in the past year from Army facilities in Bagram and Kandahar, accounting for around $419.5 million in losses, according to the report, which was issued in late October and marked ‘for official use only.’”

Will this slow down the flow of money and materiel to the Afghan regime? Don’t be silly. Despite the regime’s corruption, unwillingness to do anything to curb green-on-blue attacks, and inability to stop the Taliban, this won’t even be a speed bump.

Yet Obama and the State Department have never explained exactly what benefits to the United States will accrue from the massive expenditure and loss of American life in Afghanistan – they know the mainstream media and the Stupid Party will not call them on it, so why bother?

5. Fighting terrorism with money

Late in 2013, Secretary of State John Kerry and Turkish then-Foreign Minister and current Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu launched what they called the “Global Fund for Community Engagement and Resilience,” which CNSNews.com said was intended to “support local communities and organizations to counter extremist ideology and promote tolerance.” It would do this essentially by giving potential jihad terrorists money and jobs – an initiative that proceeds from the false and oft-disproven assumption that poverty causes terrorism.

Kerry demonstrated his faith in this false assumption when he spoke about the importance of “providing more economic opportunities for marginalized youth at risk of recruitment” into jihad groups. The GCTF is devoting $200 million to this project, which it calls “countering violent extremism” (CVE).

Kerry explained:

Getting this right isn’t just about taking terrorists off the street. It’s about providing more economic opportunities for marginalized youth at risk of recruitment. In country after country, you look at the demographics – Egypt, the West Bank – 60 percent of the young people either under the age of 30 or under the age of 25, 50 percent under the age of 21, 40 percent under the age of 18, all of them wanting jobs, opportunity, education, and a future.

This will be $200 million down the drain, for a lack of “economic opportunities for marginalized youth” doesn’t fuel Islamic jihad terrorism in the first place. In reality, study after study have shown that jihadists are not poor and bereft of economic opportunities, but generally wealthier and better educated than their peers. CNS noted that “according to a Rand Corporation report on counterterrorism, prepared for the Office of the Secretary of Defense in 2009, ‘Terrorists are not particularly impoverished, uneducated, or afflicted by mental disease. Demographically, their most important characteristic is normalcy (within their environment). Terrorist leaders actually tend to come from relatively privileged backgrounds.’ One of the authors of the RAND report, Darcy Noricks, also found that according to a number of academic studies, ‘Terrorists turn out to be more rather than less educated than the general population.’”

But none of this has sunk in among the political elites.

4. Working to topple Assad

Barack Obama has long had Bashar Assad in his sights, but has been stymied by the fact that the only significant opposition to the Assad regime are Islamic jihad groups. Now, however, he thinks he has found a way to square the circle: remove Assad, and the jihadis’ raison d’etre will be gone.

CNN [7] reported Thursday that Obama “has asked his national security team for another review of the U.S. policy toward Syria after realizing that ISIS may not be defeated without a political transition in Syria and the removal of President Bashar al-Assad.”

Alistair Baskey, spokesman for the National Security Council, explained: “Assad has been the biggest magnet for extremism in Syria, and the President has made clear that Assad has lost all legitimacy to govern.”

The fact that this is even being considered shows that Obama doesn’t take seriously the Islamic State’s proclamations that it is a new caliphate that is going to keep on trying to expand. He thinks they’re just fighting to get Assad removed, and so if he obliges them, they will melt away.

But who does he think will replace Assad? Does he seriously think he can find someone who can immediately marshal enough support to be able to withstand the Islamic State? If he picks an Alawite, the ruler will have the same problems Assad does. If he picks a Sunni, the Islamic State leaders will say he is an apostate puppet of the Westerners, and fight on. Meanwhile, the disruption in Syria will give an opportunity to the Islamic State, which will be the force best situated to take advantage of a power vacuum in Syria.

So what Obama is saying is that to defeat the Islamic State, we have to let the Islamic State win. And you can see his point — at least then it will be out of the headlines and he won’t have to be constantly hearing about it. Or so he thinks.

 

3. Arming the “moderates”

Alistair Baskey also said Thursday that “alongside our efforts to isolate and sanction the Assad regime, we are working with our allies to strengthen the moderate opposition.” Who are the moderates in Syria? In September 2014, Obama said [8]: “We have a Free Syrian Army and a moderate opposition that we have steadily been working with that we have vetted.”

That was over a year after Free Syrian Army fighters entered the Christian village of Oum Sharshouh [9] in July 2013 and began burning down houses and terrorizing the population, forcing 250 Christian families to flee the area. Worthy News reported [10] that just two days later, Free Syrian Army rebels “targeted the residents of al-Duwayr/Douar, a Christian village close to the city of Homs and near Syria’s border with Lebanon….Around 350 armed militants forcefully entered the homes of Christian families who were all rounded-up in the main square of the village and then summarily executed.” And in September 2013, a day after Secretary of State John Kerry praised the Free Syrian Army as “a real moderate opposition,” the FSA took to the Internet [11]to post videos of its attack on the ancient Syrian Christian city of Maaloula, one of the few places where Aramaic, the language of Jesus, is still spoken.

Even after all that, Obama was calling them “moderates.”

Read more at PJ Media with videos

AP: Islamic State and Al Qaeda Reach Accord

isis-global-conquest-map1-450x251Terror Trends Bulletin, by Christopher Holton:

The Associated Press is reporting that the Islamic State and Al Qaeda have reached an accord after a summit meeting in northern Syria.

This is a very bad development, but not unexpected. Abu Sayyef in the Philippines,Boko Haram in West Africa, Al Shabaab in East Africa, and Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula all already pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. Just this week, Egypt’s most dangerous Jihadist group, Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, also joined the Islamic State. In addition, 5 prominent Taliban leaders also pledged allegiance to the Islamic State.

We are now seeing the dream of the Caliphate being realized by Jihadis worldwide. Far from having them “on the run,” they are making strides and unifying, fighting in more places with more fighters than at any time in the past several hundred years.

Half-hearted measures, micromanagement by unqualified politicians and a Vietnam-style strategy of gradual escalation are sure to fail and, unlike the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese Army, today’s Jihadist enemies are already in our midst and plotting to attack us here.

Meanwhile, our irresponsible, feckless leaders focus on fringe pet issues of the Left rather than real national security issues, sitting by as the Islamic State spreads its violent Jihad from the Philippines to Libya and Nigeria.

Our children will pay the price for such horrible, misguided policies, which amount to perhaps the biggest strategic blunder in American history.

Also see:

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CJR – There is some debate over whether top leadership of IS and al Qaeda have formally agreed to join forces:

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The Beltway’s Syria Fairy Tales

pic_giant_111114_SM_Syria-Civil-WarNational Review, By Andrew C. McCarthy, Nov. 11, 2014:

Since the outbreak of the latest Middle East war a few years back, we have been chronicling the Washington political class’s Syria Fairy Tales. In particular, there is the story line that Syria is really teeming with secular democrats and authentic moderate Muslims who would have combined forces to both overthrow Assad and fight off the jihadists if only President Obama had helped them. But his failure to act created a “vacuum” that was tragically filled by Islamist militants and gave rise to ISIS. At this point in the story, you are supposed to stay politely mum and not ask whether it makes any sense that real democrats and actual moderates would agree to be led by head-chopping, mass-murdering, freedom-stifling sharia terrorists.

In point of fact, there simply have never been enough pro-Western elements in Syria to win, no matter how much help came their way. There was never going to be a moderate, democratic Syrian state without a U.S. invasion and occupation for a decade or more, an enterprise that would be politically untenable — and, as the Iraq enterprise shows, unlikely to succeed. The “moderate rebels” had no chance against Assad unless they colluded with the Islamist militants, who are vastly superior and more numerous fighters. And they would have even less chance of both knocking off Assad and staving off the jihadists.

The Obama administration and the Beltway commentariat have done their best to obscure these brute facts. Their main tactic is to exploit the American public’s unfamiliarity with the makeup of Syria. Obama Democrats and much of the Beltway GOP continue to invoke the “moderate Syrian rebels” while steadfastly refusing to identify just who those purported “moderates” are.They hope you won’t realize that, because of the dearth of actual moderate Muslims and freedom fighters, they must count among their “moderate rebels” both the Muslim Brotherhood (which should be designated as a terrorist organization) and various other Islamist factions, including . . .  wait for it . . . parts of al-Nusra — i.e., al-Qaeda’s Syrian franchise.

We’ve also noted that a new wrinkle has recently been added to the Beltway’s Syria Fairy Tales: Obama’s Khorasan Fraud. In a desperate attempt to conceal the falsity of Obama’s boasts about destroying what is actually a resurgent al-Qaeda, the administration claimed that the threat to America that impelled Obama to start bombing Syria was not ISIS (supposedly just a “regional” threat), not al-Qaeda (already defeated, right?), but a hitherto unknown terrorist organization called the “Khorasan group.”

To the contrary, the Khorasan group, to the extent it exists at all, has never been a stand-alone terrorist organization. It is an internal component of al-Qaeda — specifically, an advisory board (or, in Islamic terms, a shura council) of al-Qaeda veterans who advise and carry out directives from Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda’s emir. During the fighting in Syria, some of these operatives were sent there by Zawahiri to conduct operations under the auspices of al-Nusra. These operations have included jihadist activity against both the United States and Assad allies, plus negotiations for a rapprochement with the Islamic State (or ISIS). The limited success of those negotiations has led to fighting among the jihadists themselves.

The ball to keep your eye on here is al-Qaeda. The al-Nusra terrorist group is just al-Qaeda in Syria. Even ISIS is just a breakaway faction of al-Qaeda. And the Khorasan group is just a top-tier group of al-Qaeda veterans doing al-Qaeda’s work in conjunction with al Nusra — i.e., al-Qaeda.

The Obama administration disingenuously emphasizes these various foreign names to confuse Americans into thinking that there are various factions with diverse agendas in Syria — that al-Qaeda is no longer a problem because Obama has already dealt with it, and what remains are sundry groups of “moderate rebels” that the administration can work with in the effort to vanquish ISIS. Meanwhile, you are supposed to refrain from noticing that Obama’s original Syrian project — remember, he wanted Assad toppled — has given way to fighting ISIS . . . the very Sunni jihadists who were empowered by Obama’s lunatic policies of (a) switching sides in Libya in order to support the jihadists against Qaddafi and (b) abetting and encouraging Sunni Muslim governments in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey to arm Sunni militias in the fight against Assad — those militias having all along included al-Qaeda elements, some of which split off to become ISIS and now threaten to bite off the very hands that once fed them.

If you thought the Khorasan fraud was just a passing fad to get Obama through the initial stages of trying to rationalize his incoherent Syria air campaign, think again.

You see, Obama continues to have a problem. Everyone knows that ISIS, the main target of U.S. bombings in Syria and Iraq, cannot be defeated — or even stalled much — by a mere air campaign, which has been half-hearted at best anyway. Ground forces will be needed. So the administration and Washington’s foreign-policy clerisy keep telling Americans: Never fear, there is no need for U.S. ground troops, because we can rely on “moderate rebels” to fight ISIS. But the so-called “moderates” Obama backs have been colluding with al-Qaeda (i.e., al-Nusra) for years — at least when not being routed by al-Qaeda/al-Nusra.

Now, the sensible thing at this point would be to concede that there are no viable moderate forces in Syria, and that it would be folly for us to continue pretending those forces either exist or will materialize anytime soon. But no, that would be honest . . . which is not the Obama way — nor, frankly, is it the Washington way — to end our willful blindness to the lack of moderation among Middle Eastern Muslims.

So if honesty is not an option, what to do? Simple: Let’s just pretend that al-Nusra — part of the al-Qaeda network we have been at war with for 13 years — is, yes,moderate!

But wait a second? How can we possibly pull that off when we know al-Nusra/al-Qaeda is also plotting to attack the United States and the West?

Easy: That’s why we have the “Khorasan group”!

I kid you not. Even as al-Nusra/al-Qaeda mow down any “moderate rebels” who don’t join up with them, the Obama administration is telling Americans, “No, no, no: The al-Nusra guys are really good, moderate, upstanding jihadists. The real problem is that awful Khorasan group!”

Tom Joscelyn and Bill Roggio have the story at The Long War Journal:

CENTCOM draws misleading line between Al Nusrah Front and Khorasan Group

US Central Command [CENTCOM] attempted to distinguish between the Al Nusrah Front, al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria, and the so-called Khorasan Group in yesterday’s press release that detailed airstrikes in Syria.

CENTCOM, which directs the US and coalition air campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, denied that the five airstrikes targeted “the Nusrah Front as a whole” due to its infighting with the Syrian Revolutionaries’ Front, but instead claimed the attacks were directed at the Khorasan Group.

“These strikes were not in response to the Nusrah Front’s clashes with the Syrian moderate opposition, and they did not target the Nusrah Front as a whole,” CENTCOM noted in its press release.

The CENTCOM statement goes a step further by implying that the Al Nusrah Front is fighting against the Syrian government while the Khorasan Group is hijacking the Syrian revolution to conduct attacks against the West.

“They [the US airstrikes] were directed at the Khorasan Group whose focus is not on overthrowing the Assad regime or helping the Syrian people,” CENTCOM continues. “These al Qaeda operatives are taking advantage of the Syrian conflict to advance attacks against Western interests.”

[Emphasis added.]

Read Tom and Bill’s entire report, which sheds light on the web of jihadist connections.

Understand, the Khorasan group is al-Nusra, which is al-Qaeda. The “moderate Syrian rebels” are neither moderate nor myopically focused on Assad and Syria. (Indeed, Syria does not even exist as the same country anymore, now that ISIS has eviscerated its border with Iraq while capturing much of its territory.) The overarching Islamic-supremacist strategy of al-Qaeda has never cared about Western-drawn borders. The ambition of al-Qaeda, like that of its breakaway ISIS faction, is to conquer both the “near” enemies — i.e., the Middle East territories not currently governed by its construction of sharia — and the West. Al-Qaeda (a.k.a. al-Nusra, a.k.a. the Khorasan group) wants to overthrow Assad, but it still regards the United States as its chief nemesis.

The Khorasan group exists only as an advisory group around Zawahiri. The Obama administration’s invocation of it to divert attention from al-Qaeda and launder al-Nusra into “moderate Syrian rebels” is sheer subterfuge.

— Andrew C. McCarthy is a policy fellow at the National Review Institute. His latest book is Faithless Execution: Building the Political Case for Obama’s

ISIS and Al Qaeda Ready to Gang Up on Obama’s Rebels

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At a secret meeting in Syria brokered by the dreaded Khorasan group, the terrorist rivals discussed a merger.
By Jamie Dettmer:
ISTANBUL—Jihadi veterans known collectively as the Khorasan group, which have been targeted in two waves of airstrikes by U.S. warplanes, are trying to broker an alarming merger between militant archrivals the Islamic State and Jabhat al Nusra, the official Syrian branch of al Qaeda.
The merger, if it comes off, would have major ramifications for the West. It would reshape an already complex battlefield in Syria, shift forces further against Western interests, and worsen the prospects for survival of the dwindling and squabbling bands of moderate rebels the U.S. is backing and is planning to train.

“Khorasan sees its role now as securing an end to the internal conflict between Islamic State and al Nusra,” says a senior rebel source. The first results are already being seen on the ground in northern Syria with a coordinated attack on two rebel militias favored by Washington.

All three of the groups involved in the merger talks—Khorasan, Islamic State (widely known as ISIS or ISIL), and al Nusra—originally were part of al Qaeda. Khorasan reportedly was dispatched to Syria originally to recruit Westerners from among the thousands of jihadi volunteers who could take their terror war back to Europe and the United States. But among ferocious ideologues, similar roots are no guarantee of mutual sympathy when schisms occur.

Current and former U.S. officials say they are unaware of any cooperation between ISIS and al Nusra, and they doubt that a merger or long-term association could be pulled off. “I find it hard to believe that al Nusra and Islamic State could sink their differences,” says a former senior administration official. “The rift between them is very deep,” he adds.

But senior Syrian opposition sources say efforts at a merger are very much under way and they blame Washington for creating the circumstances that make it possible. Moderate rebels accuse the Obama administration of fostering jihadi rapprochement by launching ill-conceived airstrikes on al Nusra while at the same time adamantly refusing to target the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the U.S. military intervention in the region.

This, they say, has created the opening for a possible understanding between the jihadists and is creating sympathy for al Nusra. Other Islamist rebels and the wider population in insurgent-held areas in northern Syria question American motives and designs and remain furious at the U.S. decision not to help topple Assad.

“Al Nusra knows more airstrikes are coming, so why wait,” says an opposition source. If the Americans are going to lump them together with ISIS, maybe best to join forces. “What made the possibility of their coming together are the airstrikes.”

The opposition sources, who agreed to interviews on the condition they not be identified, warn that mounting cooperation between the two jihadist groups already is evident in specific operations.

Read more at The Daily Beast

Also see:

Inside the CIA’s Syrian Rebels Vetting Machine

A Free Syrian Army fighter in Aleppo. Hosam Katan/Reuters

A Free Syrian Army fighter in Aleppo. Hosam Katan/Reuters

By Jeff Stein:

Nothing has come in for more mockery during the Obama administration’s halting steps into the Syrian civil war than its employment of “moderate” to describe the kind of rebels it is willing to back. In one of the more widely cited japes, The New Yorker’s resident humorist, Andy Borowitz, presented a “Moderate Syrian Application Form,” in which applicants were asked to describe themselves as either “A) Moderate, B) Very moderate, C) Crazy moderate or D) Other.”

After Senator John McCain unwittingly posed with Syrians “on our side” who turned out to be kidnappers, Jon Stewart cracked, “Not everyone is going to be wearing their ‘HELLO I’M A TERRORIST’ name badge.”

Behind the jokes, however, is the deadly serious responsibility of the CIA and Defense Department to vet Syrians before they receive covert American training, aid and arms. But according to U.S. counterterrorism veterans, a system that worked pretty well during four decades of the Cold War has been no match for the linguistic, cultural, tribal and political complexities of the Middle East, especially now in Syria. “We’re completely out of our league,” one former CIA vetting expert declared on condition of anonymity, reflecting the consensus of intelligence professionals with firsthand knowledge of the Syrian situation. “To be really honest, very few people know how to vet well. It’s a very specialized skill. It’s extremely difficult to do well” in the best of circumstances, the former operative said. And in Syria it has proved impossible.

Daunted by the task of fielding a 5,000-strong force virtually overnight, the Defense Department and CIA field operatives, known as case officers, have largely fallen back on the system used in Afghanistan, first during the covert campaign to rout the Soviet Red Army in the 1980s and then again after the 2001 U.S. invasion to expel Al-Qaeda: Pick a tribal leader who in turn recruits a fighting force. But these warlords have had their own agendas, including drug-running, and shifting alliances, sometimes collaborating with terrorist enemies of the United States, sometimes not.

“Vetting is a word we throw a lot around a lot, but actually very few people know what it really means,” said the former CIA operative, who had several postings in the Middle East for a decade after the 9/11 attacks. “It’s not like you’ve got a booth set up at a camp somewhere. What normally happens is that a case officer will identify a source who is a leader in one of the Free Syrian Army groups. And he’ll say, ‘Hey…can you come up with 200 [guys] you can trust?’ And of course they say yes—they always say yes. So Ahmed brings you a list and the details you need to do the traces,” the CIA’s word for background checks. “So you’re taking that guy’s word on the people he’s recruited. So we rely on a source whom we’ve done traces on to do the recruiting. Does that make sense?”

No, says former CIA operative Patrick Skinner, who still travels the region for the Soufan Group, a private intelligence organization headed by FBI, CIA and MI6 veterans. “Syria is a vetting nightmare,” he told Newsweek, “with no way to discern the loyalties of not only those being vetted but also of those bringing the people to our attention.”

A particularly vivid example was provided recently by Peter Theo Curtis, an American held hostage in Syria for two years. A U.S.-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) unit that briefly held him hostage casually revealed how it collaborated with Al-Qaeda’s al-Nusra Front, even after being “vetted” and trained by the CIA in Jordan, he wrote in The New York Times Magazine.

“About this business of fighting Jabhat al-Nusra?” Curtis said he asked his FSA captors.

“Oh, that,” one said. “We lied to the Americans about that.”

Read more at Newsweek

EMET Phone Seminar: Dr. Jonathan Schanzer – Turkey and its Dubious Performance as an ‘Ally’

 

EMET is proud to host Dr. Jonathan Schanzer on a phone seminar to discuss Turkey.

Turkey is a supposed “ally” of the United States and NATO, yet many officials in Washington are doubting the loyalty of Ankara, which failed to join the U.S.-led air bombing campaign against the Islamic State. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan labeled the U.S. allied Kurds in Syria fighting the Islamic State as terrorists.One U.S. official reportedly said Turkey is secretly offering support to ISIS, and that many in Washington believe Turkey is partnering with Qatar to support Islamist groups in Libya. Moreover, Turkey has allowed weapons to be transported into Syria through its borders, as well as ISIS fighters to move freely between the two countries. There are ISIS cells operating throughout Turkey, and Ankara has turned a blind eye to ISIS selling smuggled oil. Turkey also has a track record of supporting Islamists, serving as a safe haven for senior Hamas officials and Muslim Brotherhood members.
In light of the above, can Turkey be relied upon at all in the fight against ISIS? And is it time for the West to end its alliance with Turkey? Please join us to hear answers to these questions and more with expert Dr. Jonathan Schanzer, the Vice President of Research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD).
Dr. Jonathan Schanzer joined FDD in February 2010, bringing solid scholarship and public policy credentials to his job of overseeing FDD’s research. He worked as a terrorism finance analyst at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, where he played an integral role in the designation of numerous terrorist financiers. A former research fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Dr. Schanzer has studied Middle East history in four countries. He earned his Ph.D. from Kings College London, where he wrote his dissertation on the U.S. Congress and its efforts to combat terrorism in the 20th century.

Dr. Schanzer’s books have made unique contributions to the field. He most recently published State of Failure: Yasser Arafat, Mahmoud Abbas, and the Unmaking of the Palestinian State (Palgrave Macmillan), which argues the main roadblock to Palestinian statehood is not necessarily Israel’s intransigence, but the Palestinian Authority’s political dysfunction and mismanagement.
Dr. Schanzer has testified before Congress and publishes widely in the American and international media. He has appeared on American television channels such as Fox News and CNN, and Arabic language television channels such as al-Arabiyya and al-Jazeera. Dr. Schanzer has traveled widely throughout the Middle East, including Iraq, Yemen, Egypt, Morocco, Kuwait, Qatar, Turkey, Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories. He speaks Arabic and Hebrew.

Also see:

Wannabe jihadists are taking cruises to avoid security checks while travelling to Syria and Iraq

Reuters / Gary Cameron

Reuters / Gary Cameron

Schanzer tweet

news.com.au: WANNABE jihadi fighters are increasingly booking tickets on cruise ships to join extremists in battle zones in Syria and Iraq, hoping to bypass stepped-up efforts to thwart them in neighboring Turkey, Interpol officials have told The Associated Press.

This is one of the reasons why the international police body is preparing to expand a pilot program known as I-Checkit, which airlines use to check passenger information against Interpol’s databases – in hopes that one day the system could expand to include cruise operators, banks, hotels and other private-sector partners.

Turkey, with its long and often porous border with Syria, has been a major thoroughfare for many of the thousands of foreign fighters seeking to join extremists like the Islamic State group, which has captured territory across Iraq and Syria.

Speaking in Monaco, where Interpol is holding its general assembly this week, outgoing chief Ronald Noble confirmed that Turkey was a destination for would-be jihadists, but declined to identify any others.

He also refused to indicate how many people might be involved, but called on countries to step up screening at all transportation hubs – “airports and, more and more, cruise lines.”

Turkish authorities say they have set up teams to nab suspected foreign fighters in airports and bus stations, and have deported hundreds in recent months.

Pierre St. Hilaire, director of counterterrorism at Interpol, suggested that the Turkish crackdown has shown results in recent months, and so some would-be jihadis are making alternative travel plans.

“Because they know the airports are monitored more closely now, there’s a use of cruise ships to travel to those areas,” he said.

“There is evidence that the individuals, especially in Europe, are traveling mostly to Izmit and other places to engage in this type of activity,” he said, referring to a Turkish coastal town.

The phenomenon is relatively new, within the past three months or so, said other Interpol officials.

“Originally, our concern about people on cruise ships – dangerous people on cruise ships – really focused on the classic sort of rapist, burglar, or violent criminal,” Mr Noble said.

“But as we’ve gathered data, we’ve realized that there are more and more reports that people are using cruise ships in order to get to launch pads, if you will – sort of closer to the conflict zones – of Syria and Iraq.”

Cruise ships, which often make repeated stops, offer an added benefit by allowing would-be jihadis to hop off undetected at any number of ports – making efforts to track them more difficult.

Mr St. Hilaire said it wasn’t exactly clear yet how many would-be foreign fighters were traveling by cruise ship to reach Syria, and added that there were other options as well: to avoid passing through airports, some people have driven all the way from their homes in Europe to the Syrian border.

He was quick to caution that Europe is by no means the only or even the main source of foreign fighters for Syria.

“It’s a global threat – 15,000 fighters or more from 81 countries traveling to one specific conflict zone,” he said, noting that that there are some 300 from China alone.

“In order to prevent their travel and identify them, there needs to be greater information-sharing among the region, among national security agencies.”

Many European governments have expressed concern that home-grown jihadis who self-radicalize online and then travel to Syria will return home with skills to carry out terror attacks. Frenchman Mehdi Nemmouche, who allegedly spent a year in Syria and fought with Islamic State, is the chief suspect in a May attack on the Jewish Museum of Brussels that killed four people.

Jihadists Psychologically Dominate the Battlefield

jihad4ACLJ, By David French:

Everyone who’s spent five minutes in the Middle East knew — or should have known – this was going to happen:

The Obama administration’s Syria strategy suffered a major setback Sunday after fighters linked to al-Qaeda routed U.S.-backed rebels from their main northern strongholds, capturing significant quantities of weaponry, triggering widespread defections and ending hopes that Washington will readily find Syrian partners in its war against the Islamic State.

I won’t go through all the gory details (I’d urge you to read Ira Straus’s excellent home-page piece), but Americans have to understand the utter futility of our quest for effective “moderate” proxies to fight jihad. We have spent billions of dollars, have trained young Syrians, Iraqis, and Afghans for countless hours, and have equipped them with weapons far superior to anything the jihadists posses, and still they melt away — running or switching sides at first contact with the enemy.

Why?

Because jihadists psychologically dominate the battlefield. Training and weapons are obviously key to success in combat, but training a soldier isn’t like training an accountant or IT professional — it’s about so much more than knowledge or tools. All of this should be elementary, but the increasing lack of combat experience in the highest echelons of our government suggests it’s not. At the most elementary level, a soldier has to find the moral courage to overcome primal fear. And when fighting jihadists, the Iraqi soldier or Syrian moderate faces a sudden, terrifying reality.

They are coming, and they will not stop.

That is the reality of fighting disciplined armies, but it is also the reality of fighting fanatics — of people who give the impression that they don’t care whether they live or die, that the normal rules of human preservation have been utterly discarded, and they exist only to kill or be killed. In the face of such ferocity, there is but one response:

We shall not be moved.

This is the response of the American fighting man, whether it’s the Marine at Guadalcanal confronting a midnight banzai charge, the outgunned sailors at Leyte Gulf facing down the barrels of the world’s most powerful battleships, or the soldiers and Marines in countless firefights from the Pusan Perimeter in Korea, to Khe Sanh in Vietnam, or in the nameless battles across Iraq and Afghanistan. But it is not the universal response of all fighting men, and even American troops have cracked under extreme duress in wars past. And jihadists often crack when facing Americans today.

Historically, the power of this “fighting spirit” (or élan as the French called it when they launched human wave attacks against German positions early in World War I) has been so clearly recognized that even otherwise sophisticated military minds have believed that spirit alone can overcome deficiencies in equipment, training, and tactics. It can, and it does — until “fighting spirit” collides with iron will and discipline on the other side. But when that iron will doesn’t exist, the spirit wins. The French were foolish to believe that the German soldier would melt in the face of French bravery. The jihadist knows the Iraqi soldier will flee.

The jihadist burns with conviction. The Iraqi soldier, by contrast, may hate and fear the jihadist, but with rare exceptions he does not carry the same level of conviction into the fight. Talk to virtually any American who’s spent significant time with Afghan and Iraqi forces. The words, “motivated,” “disciplined,” and “courageous” do not come easily — even if (as is sometimes the case) the Americans grow to like their Iraqi or Afghan allies.

It’s past time for our leaders to recognize our allies’ profound limitations. Unsupported by direct contact with Americans in the field, they serve mainly as cannon fodder — ready to throw down their (American-made) arms the moment the fight starts to drift out of their immediate control. Yes, the Kurds fight well, but the Kurds can’t and shouldn’t lead an offensive outside their traditional areas of control.

But for now — so long as the Obama administration is in charge — recent experience and historical military truths mean nothing, and our “allies” are functioning as little more than middlemen, holding our weapons until they’re turned over, slightly used, to their new jihadist masters.

The Clearing of the Pawns

Members of Islamist Syrian rebel group Jabhat al-Nusra pose for a picture at a checkpoint at the Karaj al-Hajez crossing in Syria Photo: MOLHEM BARAKAT/REUTERS

Members of Islamist Syrian rebel group Jabhat al-Nusra pose for a picture at a checkpoint at the Karaj al-Hajez crossing in Syria Photo: MOLHEM BARAKAT/REUTERS

CSP, By Kyle Shideler:

It is now being reported that Al Qaeda’s Syrian group, the Al Nusra Front has accepted the surrender of the U.S.-Armed Harakat Hazm (HZM), and effectively neutralized the Syrian Revolutionary Front (SRF) by seizing it’s remaining bases. As the UK Telegraph notes:

For the last six months the Hazm movement, and the SRF through them, had been receiving heavy weapons from the US-led coalition, including GRAD rockets and TOW anti-tank missiles.
But on Saturday night Harakat Hazm surrendered military bases and weapons supplies to Jabhat al-Nusra, when the al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria stormed villages they controlled in northern Idlib province.
The development came a day after Jabhat al-Nusra dealt a final blow to the SRF, storming and capturing Deir Sinbal, home town of the group’s leader Jamal Marouf. The attack caused the group, which had already lost its territory in Hama to al-Qaeda, to surrender.

According to reports, HZM surrendered its positions to Al Nusra and turned over its U.S.-provided arsenal without offering any resistance. Harakat Hazm has never been shy about fighting alongside Al Nusra, as one fighter proclaimed to the LA Times less than a month ago, “But Nusra doesn’t fight us, we actually fight alongside them. We like Nusra.” This coziness with al Qaeda is something that investigative reporter Patrick Poole has repeatedly noted, and raises the question of whether these surrogates upon which President Obama’s Syria and anti-ISIS strategy depends were ever really “our surrogates” to begin with? The, admittedly pro-Assad, Beirut paper Al-Akbar has claimed that HZM was explicitly created by the Muslim Brotherhood, and with the support of Turkey and Qatar, in order to serve as a recipient of U.S. aid.

Whether HZM was a Muslim Brotherhood front designed to fool the West from day one, or whether they simply lack the strength to continue resisting Al Nusra, the result is the same.  SRF and HZM  have now being cleared from the board, rendering painfully obvious what should have been clear some time ago. There is no force of “moderation” capable of ruling an intact Syria. U.S. airstrikes cannot defeat ISIS alone, and could not, even were they not hamstrung by a gun shy Administration that insists on controlling every aspect of the air war from the White House. Further escalation, through “boots on the ground” is, as reporter Michael Totten has noted,  a political non-starter, and for very good reason.  The idea that a force of Syrians can be extracted from Syria, tabula rasa, and then reinserted a few years later once they’ve been adequately armed and trained, as some have proposed, is a flight of fancy.  The future of Syria is likely to be decided between Al Qaeda, ISIS and the Assad regime, backed by Iran and Hezbollah.

Recognizing our lack of pieces to move should be the first step in crafting a new strategy, one which takes into account not just Syria, but the whole rapidly changing face of the region.

Obamas-Middle-East-Chess-Board-360-X-275

Foreign jihadists flocking to Iraq and Syria on ‘unprecedented scale’ – UN

An image grab taken from a video released by Islamic State group's official Al-Raqqa site via YouTube. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

An image grab taken from a video released by Islamic State group’s official Al-Raqqa site via YouTube. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

By Spencer Ackerman:

The United Nations has warned that foreign jihadists are swarming into the twin conflicts in Iraq and Syria on “an unprecedented scale” and from countries that had not previously contributed combatants to global terrorism.

A report by the UN security council, obtained by the Guardian, finds that 15,000 people have travelled to Syria and Iraq to fight alongside the Islamic State (Isis) and similar extremist groups. They come from more than 80 countries, the report states, “including a tail of countries that have not previously faced challenges relating to al-Qaida”.

The UN said it was uncertain whether al-Qaida would benefit from the surge. Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of al-Qaida who booted Isis out of his organisation, “appears to be maneuvering for relevance”, the report says.

The UN’s numbers bolster recent estimates from US intelligence about the scope of the foreign fighter problem, which the UN report finds to have spread despite the Obama administration’s aggressive counter-terrorism strikes and global surveillance dragnets.

“Numbers since 2010 are now many times the size of the cumulative numbers of foreign terrorist fighters between 1990 and 2010 – and are growing,” says the report, produced by a security council committee that monitors al-Qaida.

The UN report did not list the 80-plus countries that it said were the source of fighters flowing fighters into Iraq and Syria. But in recent months, Isis supporters have appeared in places as unlikely as the Maldives, and its videos proudly display jihadists with Chilean-Norwegian and other diverse backgrounds.

“There are instances of foreign terrorist fighters from France, the Russian Federation and and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland operating together,” it states. More than 500 British citizens are believed to have travelled to the region since 2011.

Read more at The Guardian

Military Hates White House ‘Micromanagement’ of ISIS War

Alex Wong/Getty

Alex Wong/Getty

By Eli Lake and Josh Rogin:

The Pentagon brass placed in charge of implementing Obama’s war against ISIS are getting fed up with the short leash the White House put them on.
Top military leaders in the Pentagon and in the field are growing increasingly frustrated by the tight constraints the White House has placed on the plans to fight ISIS and train a new Syrian rebel army.As the American-led battle against ISIS stretches into its fourth month, the generals and Pentagon officials leading the air campaign and preparing to train Syrian rebels are working under strict White House orders to keep the war contained within policy limits. The National Security Council has given precise instructions on which rebels can be engaged, who can be trained, and what exactly those fighters will do when they return to Syria. Most of the rebels to be trained by the U.S. will never be sent to fight against ISIS.Making matters worse, military officers and civilian Pentagon leaders tell The Daily Beast, is the ISIS war’s decision-making process, run by National Security Adviser Susan Rice. It’s been manic and obsessed with the tiniest of details. Officials talk of sudden and frequent meetings of the National Security Council and the so-called Principals Committee of top defense, intelligence, and foreign policy officials (an NSC and three PCs in one week this month); a barrage of questions from the NSC to the agencies that create mountains of paperwork for overworked staffers; and NSC insistence on deciding minor issues even at the operational level.

“We are getting a lot of micromanagement from the White House. Basic decisions that should take hours are taking days sometimes,” one senior defense official told The Daily Beast.

Other gripes among the top Pentagon and military brass are about the White House’s decision not to work with what’s left of the existing Syrian moderate opposition on the ground, which prevents intelligence sharing on fighting ISIS and prevents the military from using trained fighters to build the new rebel army that President Obama has said is needed to push Syrian President Bashar al-Assad into a political negotiation to end the conflict.

The New York Times reported Wednesday that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel himself is among the critics of Obama’s strategy in Syria. Hagel wrote a memo last week to Rice warning that Obama’s Syria strategy was unclear about U.S. intentions with respect to Assad, undermining the plan.

Read more at The Daily Beast

Also see:

Sources: Former Guantanamo detainees suspected of joining ISIS, other groups in Syria

397ISIS_20141030_083658Fox News, By Justin Fishel, Jennifer Griffin, October 30, 2014:

As many as 20 to 30 former Guantanamo Bay detainees released within the last two to three years are suspected by intelligence and Defense officials of having joined forces with the Islamic State and other militant groups inside Syria, Fox News has learned.

The development has cemented fears that the U.S. military would once again encounter militants taken off the battlefield.

The intelligence offers a mixed picture, and officials say the figures are not exact. But they are certain at least some of the released detainees are fighting with the Islamic State, or ISIS, on the ground inside Syria. Others are believed to be supporting Al Qaeda or the affiliated al-Nusra Front in Syria.

A number of former detainees also have chosen to help these groups from outside the country, financing operations and supporting their propaganda campaigns.

Sources who spoke to Fox News were not able to provide the identities of the fighters.

Senior Defense and intelligence officials say the vast majority of detainees released from Guantanamo don’t return to the fight — and of those who do, relatively few have made it to Syria.

Of the 620 detainees released from Guantanamo Bay, 180 have returned or are suspected to have returned to the battlefield.

Of those 180, sources say 20 to 30 have either joined ISIS or other militants groups in Syria, or are participating with these groups from outside countries. Officials say most of those 20 to 30 are operating inside Syria.

The development underscores just one of many long-running complications for efforts to shutter Guantanamo Bay, a promise President Obama made within hours of taking the oath of office in 2009.

Nearly six years later, that effort has run aground, complicated by problems with relocating prisoners, by concerns about fighters returning to the battlefield and by Congress’ resistance to allowing any to be detained on the U.S. mainland.

A majority of the jihadists released to their home countries tend to stay and fight locally. Afghans who return to the battlefield, for instance, tend to stay in Afghanistan.

But these officials said the former detainees who have joined ISIS in Syria have migrated from the European and African countries which agreed to receive them from the United States.
Egypt and Tunisia, as well as six European countries, are among them.

According to a source, there are 149 detainees still at Guantanamo Bay, almost 90 of them from Yemen.

Jennifer Griffin currently serves as a national security correspondent for FOX News Channel . She joined FNC in October 1999 as a Jerusalem-based correspondent. 

Al-Qaeda issues call to support Isil in new threat to American strategy

Members of Islamist Syrian rebel group Jabhat al-Nusra pose for a picture at a checkpoint at the Karaj al-Hajez crossing in Syria Photo: MOLHEM BARAKAT/REUTERS

Members of Islamist Syrian rebel group Jabhat al-Nusra pose for a picture at a checkpoint at the Karaj al-Hajez crossing in Syria Photo: MOLHEM BARAKAT/REUTERS

Al-Qaeda branch calls on group to support Isil in blow to American-led coalition, as monitoring group reports that Isil has been able to fly three Russian fighter jets

By Richard Spencer:

Al-Qaeda’s leading terror franchise has presented a new challenge to the American-led coalition in Syria and Iraq by calling on the group to back Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant despite the two groups’ fierce rivalry.

The call by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is doubly significant because its leader is believed to have been appointed as “general manager” or chief operating officer and deputy to Al-Qaeda’s overall head, Ayman al-Zawahiri.

In the past year, Zawahiri and the head of Isil, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, have clashed openly and the two groups have fought each other in Syria. But America’s decision to bomb not only Isil in Iraq and Syria but also a group of Al-Qaeda fighters accused of planning an attack on the United States has drawn the two rival jihadi organisations closer together.

“We urge all Muslims to back their brethren, with their souls, money and tongues, against the crusaders,” a statement released on Friday said. “We call on anyone who can wear down the Americans to strive to do so by military, economic or media means.” The American decision to bomb an outpost of Al-Qaeda’s official faction in the Syrian Civil War, Jabhat Al-Nusra, caused outrage in the rebel cause.

Many rebels were already angry that after refusing to intervene militarily on their side against the Assad regime, the US was nevertheless prepared to bomb Isil positions. The attack on Jabhat Al-Nusra, which had fought closely alongside other rebel factions, including pro-Western ones, was seen as an outright betrayal of the anti-Assad cause.

Now the United States is having difficulty finding rebels to train and arm in accordance with the broader plans outlined by President Barack Obama to support the “moderate” cause in the war.

Read more at The Telegraph

Also see:

Thomas Joscelyn:

No explicit denunciation of the Islamic State

“Resurgence” republishes a statement by Mullah Omar, the Taliban’s leader, from earlier this year. Omar says that all American and Western forces must be withdrawn from Afghanistan, and he calls on the entire Islamic world to denounce Israel for its supposedly “savage aggression” against “oppressed Palestinians.”

In “Resurgence,” as in other al Qaeda messages and statements, Omar is called “Amir ul Mominin,” or the Commander of the Faithful, a title that is usually reserved for the leader of an Islamic caliphate. Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, the head of the Islamic State, has attempted to usurp this title for himself.

In its propaganda, al Qaeda has taken a subtle approach to responding to the Islamic State’s claims. The group has pushed its allegiance to Omar, and his presumed role as the rightful caliph.

“Resurgence” does not include any specific denunciations of the Islamic State. But it does reproduce a quote from Zawahiri explaining how a proper jihadist caliphate will be built. After arguing that jihadists are an inseparable part of the ummah, or community of Muslims, Zawahiri writes, “The Islamic State will be established – by the help and will of Allah — at the hands of the free, sincere and honorable Mujahideen. It will be established with their sacrifices, generosity, consent and collective choice.”

This could be read as a thinly-veiled critique of the Islamic State, as one of the pro-al Qaeda jihadists’ chief criticisms of Baghdadi is that he has tried to impose his caliphate on all other Muslims, eschewing the type of consensus that al Qaeda believes is necessary to form first. In the context of their rivalry with the Islamic State, senior al Qaeda leaders have reproduced similar quotes from Zawahiri throughout the year.

Another piece in “Resurgence,” written by Zawahiri’s son-in-law, Muhammad bin Mahmoud Rabie al Bahtiyti (a.k.a. Abu Dujana al Basha), urges Muslims to support the mujahideen in Syria, but also says nothing about the Islamic State. Al Bahtiyti released an audio message warning against the Islamic State in late September. Even though al Bahtiyti clearly sought to undermine Baghdadi’s group, he did not explicitly name the Islamic State in that message either.

The Poison Tree

Arab protesters wave Islamic flags in front of the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel / AP

Arab protesters wave Islamic flags in front of the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel / AP

By Matthew Continetti:

Last month, addressing the U.N. General Assembly, Benjamin Netanyahu made a connection between the Islamic State and Hamas. These terrorist entities, Netanyahu said, have a lot in common. Separated by geography, they nonetheless share ideology and tactics and goals: Islamism, terrorism, the destruction of Israel, and the establishment of a global caliphate.

And yet, Netanyahu observed, the very nations now campaigning against the Islamic State treated Hamas like a legitimate combatant during last summer’s Israel-Gaza war. “They evidently don’t understand,” he said, “that ISIS and Hamas are branches of the same poisonous tree.”

The State Department dismissed Netanyahu’s metaphor. “Obviously, we’ve designated both as terrorist organizations,” said spokesman Jen Psaki. “But ISIL poses a different threat to Western interests and to the United States.”

Psaki was wrong, of course. She’s always wrong. And, after the events of the last 48 hours, there ought not to be any doubt as to just how wrong she was. As news broke that a convert to Islam had murdered a soldier and stormed the Canadian parliament, one read of another attack in Jerusalem, where a Palestinian terrorist ran his car over passengers disembarking from light rail, injuring seven, and killing 3-month-old Chaya Zissel Braun, who held a U.S. passport.

Islamic State, al Qaeda, Hamas—these awful people are literally baby killers. And yet they produce a remarkable amount of dissension, confusion, willful ignorance, and moral equivalence on the part of the men and women who conduct U.S. foreign policy. “ISIL is not ‘Islamic,’” President Obama said of the terrorist army imposing sharia law across Syria and Iraq. “Obviously, we’re shaken by it,” President Obama said of the attack in Canada. “We urge all sides to maintain calm and avoid escalating tensions in the wake of this incident,” the State Department said of the murder of a Jewish child.

“Not Islamic,” despite the fact that the Caliphate grounds its barbarous activities in Islamic law. “Shaken,” not stirred to action. “All sides,” not the side that targets civilians again and again and again. The evasions continue. They create space for the poison tree to grow.

The persistent denial of the ideological unity of Islamic terrorism—the studied avoidance of politically incorrect facts that has characterized our response to the Ft. Hood shooting, the Benghazi attack, the Boston Marathon bombing, the march of the caliphate across Syria and Iraq, and the crimes of Hamas—is not random. Behind it is a set of ideas with a long history, and with great purchase among the holders of graduate degrees who staff the Department of Justice, the National Security Council, Foggy Bottom, and the diplomatic corps. These ideas are why, in the words of John McCain, the terrorists “are winning, and we’re not.”

A report by Katherine Gorka of the Council on Global Security, “The Bad Science Behind America’s Counter-Terrorism Strategy,” analyzes the soil from which the poison tree draws strength. Since the Iranian revolution of 1979, Gorka writes, U.S. policymakers have faced a dilemma: “how to talk about Islam in a way that is instructive in dealing with Muslims who are enemies but not destructive to those who are friends.” For decades, the preferred solution has been to declare America’s friendship with Islam, and to distinguish between jihadists and everyday Muslims.

One of Gorka’s earliest examples of this policy comes from former Assistant Secretary of State Edward Djerejian, who said in 1992, “The U.S. government does not view Islam as the next ‘ism’ confronting the West or threatening world peace.” Similar assurances were uttered by officials in the Clinton administration, by Clinton himself, and by President George W. Bush. The policy was meant to delegitimize terrorism by denying the terrorists’ claim that they are acting according to religious precepts. “Policymakers believed that by tempering their language with regard to Islam, they might forestall further radicalization of moderate Muslims and indeed even potentially win moderates into the American circle of friendship.”

George W. Bush, Gorka notes, combined his rhetorical appeals to moderate Muslims with denunciations of the immorality of terrorism and illiberalism. And yet, for the government at large, downplaying the religious and ideological component to terrorist activities became an end in itself.

The Global War on Terror was renamed the “global struggle against violent extremism.” In 2008 the Department of Homeland Security published a lexicon of terrorism that said, “Our terminology must be properly calibrated to diminish the recruitment efforts of extremists who argue that the West is at war with Islam.” State Department guidelines issued in 2008 said, “Never use the terms jihadist or mujahedeen to describe a terrorist.”

Then came Obama. As a candidate, he stressed his experiences in Indonesia and Pakistan. He told Nick Kristof of the New York Times that the call of the muezzin is “one of the prettiest sounds on Earth at sunset.” In one of his first major addresses as president, he traveled to Cairo to inaugurate a new beginning with the Muslim world. His counterterrorism adviser, now director of the CIA, called jihad a “legitimate tenet of Islam,” and referred to Jerusalem as “Al Quds.”

The change in the manner in which the government treated Islamism was profound. “Whereas the 9/11 Commission report, published under the presidency of George W. Bush in July 2004 as a bipartisan product, had used the word Islam 322 times, Muslim 145 times, jihad 126 times, and jihadist 32 times,” Gorka writes, “the National Intelligence Strategy of the United States, issued by the Obama administration in August 2009, used the term Islam 0 times, Muslim 0 times, jihad 0 times.” The omission is stunning.

Read more at Washington Free Beacon